How Men From 35 Years Ago Compare to Now

How Men From 35 Years Ago Compare to Now

mh 35 years logo

BACK IN 1988, when the debut issue of Men’s Health came out, it was an interesting time to be a 35-year-old man.

First off, there were hardly any health magazines for men. The Internet was largely AOL (LOL). Everyone was reading Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, listening to Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” and watching Jessica Rabbit in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Our TV dads who weren’t (gulp) Dr. Cliff Huxtable were Dan Conner and Al Bundy, guys who were physically present with their families but always with a beer in a chair after a hard day’s work. On the big screen, a 35-year-old Michael Keaton bugged us out with Beetlejuice, and Bruce Willis, himself two years shy of turning 35, proved hard to kill in Die Hard.

We were entertained with a kind of pre-social-media chill, but really, how were we? Our Men’s Health research team dug through the data to determine the state of 35-year-old men then versus now. In general, a higher percentage of today’s men are exercising and taking care of their mental health, and fewer are smoking and drinking.

But a higher percentage are also carrying too much extra weight and taking prescription medication, and men today have fewer close friends than they did three and a half decades ago. We turned to the latest research and the experts on our advisory board to shed light on these shifts—and offer tips on how to turn the stats in your favor.

our body
then 71 point 5 now 73 point 2
then 160 point 6 lbs 5 ft 7 point 5 inches now 198 point 9 lbs 5 ft 7 point 5 inches


then 29 percent
now 21 percent
then 20 percent now 43 percent

The factors that have led to this rise include pervasive food advertising and increased sedentary periods, plus the unknown effects of poor sleep and crash dieting. “Our hyperfocus on just a few of these has led us to neglect the multifactorial nature of this disease,” says Fatima Cody Stanford, M.D., M.P.H.,the director of diversity at Harvard’s Nutrition Obesity Research Center. Obesity is a lifestyle issue, not just a dietary one.

stomped out cigarette

fabphoto//Getty Images

then 27 point 7 percent now 13 point 1 percent

You love to see it, but also know that some of these guys may have switched to vaping, according to recent Gallup polling. Plus, smoking is still high among certain groups, especially the uninsured, people living below the poverty line, people who identify as gay or bisexual, and people who live in the Midwest or the South, according to the CDC.

then 64 percent now 58 percent


then 32 point 7 percent now 41 point 5 percent
inflatable palm tree with coconuts

Travis Rathbone / Trunk Archive

537 ng per dl
466 ng per dl

Worry not for the fate of healthy men: Healthy levels of testosterone typically land between264 and 916 ng/dl. This slight dip over a quarter century might be attributed to an increase in the rates of chronic disease and obesity in men.

our life
at first marriage then 26 now 30 of first time home buyers male and female then 29 now 36 of first time fathers then 25 now 27


then 40 percent
now 15 percent
then 53 point 26 percent
now 61 point 44 percent
gold wedding ring melting

Maurizio Di Iorio

then 4 point 7 per 1000 people now 2 point 5 per 1000 people

Avi Klein, L.C.S.W., a psycho-therapist and couples counselor in New York City, says he’s seen more clients pursuing open relationships.“People may be changing the nature of their relationships in a way that they might have only done previously by getting divorced,” he says. They may also not see marriage as essential and so may be more enthusiastic about it if they do marry.


then 13072 per year now 35808 per year


then 4 years now 4 point 3 years


then 4 point 4 percent
now 14 point 6 percent

More than three times as many men are receiving mental-health care today compared with 35 years ago. “I’m not surprised by it,” says Gregory S. Brown, M.D., author of The Self-Healing Mind. He credits the destigmatization of mental-health messaging, employers supporting mental wellness, and a visibility boost on social.

our culture
then richard simmons sweatin to the oldies now vr workouts

Courtesy Everett Collection; Jacob Lund/Getty Images

then ford escort base price from 6632 now ford f series pickup 31520

Courtesy of Ford Motor Company

then super mario bros 3 now hogwarts legacy

Courtesy brands

then kelloggs cracklin oat bran

Courtesy of Kellogg’s

now kelloggs icee cereal

Courtesy of Kellogg’s

then one dollar 49 cents per 18 oz now five dollars 18 centers per 18 oz

Courtesy of Kellogg’s


then doug williams first black qb to play in and win one now patrick mahomes

Focus on Sport/Getty Images; Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Headshot of Paul Kita

Paul is the Food & Nutrition Editor of Men’s Health. He’s also the author of two cookbooks: Guy Gourmet and A Man, A Pan, A Plan.